Saturday, July 30, 2022

Rise Up O God of Vengeance (Psalm 94)

In his splendid work on The Attributes of God, A. W. Pink writes:

It is sad to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or at least they wish there were no such thing.… Others harbor the delusion that God’s wrath is not consistent with His goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts.… But God is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong to Him.… The wrath of God is as much a Divine perfection as His faithfulness, power or mercy.… The very nature of God makes Hell as real a necessity as Heaven is.

Psalm 94:1–3 In Psalm 94 we hear the faithful remnant of Israel in the last days appealing to the God of vengeance to reveal Himself in His hatred of evil. The time has come for the righteous Judge of all the earth to avenge the crimes of evil rulers against His beloved people. The cry “How long?” is about to be hushed. The gloating of the wicked will soon be silenced.

Psalm 94:4–7 The condemnation of the proud persecutors is itemized. “Hear their insolence! See their arrogance! How these men of evil boast!” (LB). They grind Jehovah’s people under their heels; they are unremitting in their harassment of His loyal heritage. They victimize the defenseless widow, the unsuspecting guests, the helpless orphans. And their attitude is that the God of Jacob does not understand or care what is happening.

Psalm 94:8–11 What stupid fools they are to think that God is unaware! If He had the skill to plant the ear in man’s body, does He not have the power also to hear what the wicked are saying? Can the Creator of the eye be blind Himself as to what is going on? If He has power to chasten the nations, as history demonstrates, is He incapable of chastising the Mafia that is oppressing His beloved ones? How can He have less knowledge than He imparts to mankind? The fact is that the LORD knows everything, He knows what these crooked men are thinking, and He knows that their thoughts are empty wisps of breath.

Psalm 94:12–15 Faith enables the afflicted psalmist to see his troubles as part of God’s education for him. It is a great thing to be thus taught by the LORD, and to be trained out of His law. God gives him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is being dug for the wicked. He can be confident that Jehovah will never forsake His people or abandon the inheritance He loves. Inevitably justice will be restored to its proper place and honest people will show it to others and receive it in return.

Psalm 94:16–19 There were times when the psalmist wondered who would defend him against the overwhelming power of evildoers. But he was never left alone. The LORD always came to his help; otherwise he would have soon been ushered into the silence of the cemetery. Whenever he thought he was about to fall before the onslaughts of men, he found himself wonderfully sustained by the mercy of the LORD. When anxieties and doubts began to rise in his mind, the Lord soothed and caressed his soul with all kinds of consolations.

Psalm 94:20–23 Can there be any fellowship between Jehovah and these wicked rulers? Can there be partnership between Christ and Antichrist? Can the Lord approve men who enact ordinances to legalize sin? To ask the question is to answer it. The power-drunk rulers slay the righteous and condemn the innocent. But the LORD is a fortress for His own, and the rock in which they can hide. He will repay the unjust in full measure. He will wipe them out for all their iniquity. Yes, sir, He will wipe them out.

It is not surprising that many people are taken aback by the forceful words of Psalm 94, which call for vengeance against the enemies of Israel. Some interpreters try to wrest meanings from such psalms that are less harsh; they imagine the psalmist doesn’t really mean what he says. But the psalmist does intend to call down judgment from heaven against the godlessness and wickedness that abound in the world. He loves the righteousness of the Lord, and he loves God’s people; therefore, he hates sin, which stands in opposition to God and His eternal statutes. So the psalmist prays that God rise up and render punishment to the proud.